And they entered into Capharnaum, and forthwith upon the sabbath days going into the synagogue, he taught them. And they were astonished at his doctrine. For he was teaching them as one having power, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus threatened him, saying: Speak no more, and go out of the man.
And the unclean spirit tearing him, and crying out with a loud voice, went out of him. And they were all amazed [astonished], insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying: What thing is this? what is this new doctrine? for with power he commandeth even the unclean spirits, and they obey him. (Mk 1:21-28)
The demons prosper around the world. They take delight in our distrust, pride, indignation, vicious partisanship; in our discord, disputation, war; in our fear, self-indulgence, securing our wealth, pleasure, abortion, indulgence; in our neglect of our neighbor, our lack of care for those in need.
From time to time, someone speaks out against the demonic: “You don’t need all the money, power, security, pleasure to live well, happily.” The world gallops on, a herd of crazed horses racing to their own destruction. From time to time, some poor soul holds up his hands against the stampede, pleading for them to stop.
But the demons just whip the horses they’re riding, and the horses gallop on, trampling the poor souls who say, “Stop.”
Except Jesus. Jesus said “Stop,” and they stopped. He told proud men to forgive, and they forgave, fearful men to trust, and they trusted. He called men who were busy with other things to follow him, and they followed.
Jesus said, “Stop,” and the demons stopped. Even more astonishing is why: Jesus said, “Stop, because I said so.”
And when the demons called their slaves back to pride, back to fear, back to fighting, he said, “Shut up,” and they shut up. Jesus said, “Stop,” and the demons stopped.
Even more astonishing is why: Jesus said, “Stop, because I said so.” Not because he had magic power or a special ritual formula. He mostly didn’t speak in the name of his Jewish religion, though he could. Jesus did not speak in the name of the Jewish nation as a politician or freedom fighter. Jesus did not speak in the name of the usual social activism for bettering society.
He spoke in his own name, on his own authority: “Believe me, because I know. Trust me, because I said so. Follow me, because I am me, I am.”
Jesus amazes, Jesus astonishes, not merely because of his brilliant teachings, not merely because he worked so many miracles, affected so many people. Jesus astonishes because he did all in his own name — as if he himself were the source of all truth, as if he himself were the source of all healing and divine power, as if he himself were the fulfillment of all your hope.
And today, once more, Jesus speaks to you — or rather, he first speaks to the demons within you, “Shut up. Get out.” And if you let his voice in, open your ears and your mind, the demons will go, take with them your fear, pride, worries, ambitions, plans, and they will leave behind only you, in peace, humility, friendship with your neighbors. And then Jesus speaks to you, “Come, follow me.”